6.3 Where can I find Support for my Internationalisation Strategy?

In this section we will refer to factors and support agencies that can be of assistance to your internationalisation efforts.

Business Networks
Although research does not offer much empirical evidence, business networks can offer firms, a significant level of assistance in internationalisation.1 Business networks can offer you potential partners and thus opportunities for doing business abroad. By joining a business network, you will also have the chance to collaborate more frequently with other SMEs, whether it takes the form of a formal co-operation.2

The Internet
The internet can serve as a crucial tool for companies, in many different situations and is considered as a success factor by more and more SMEs. 3 Internet usage has many benefits for SMEs:

  1. It can serve as a reliable source of information and up-to-date news on developments regarding the international markets
  2. It can help you communicate with potential partners in an easy manner (mainly through communication networks)
  3. It can contribute to an increase of your sales, either through advertising (sources like Facebook and Google-ads are a very cheap and efficient way to promote your business) or through forming an online business and performing transactions online (as payment options are getting more and more secure and easier to perform).

Furthermore, prime examples of internationalisation include internet stores and the execution of online business. Without worrying about tangible costs and overseas staff, many online businesses operate on an international basis and give customers the opportunity to access their virtual stores or respective sites.

National Investment Agencies (NIAs)
National Investment Agencies promote their countries to their target investors and thus can serve as a good source of information should you wish to form a potential partnership in another country. The information refers to all the specific factors and advantages that could make a location favourable in economic terms and thus attractive for foreign investment. 4

Public Bodies and Agencies
A wide range of support services are offered through Public Bodies and Agencies:

  1. Through the provision of financial aid
  2. Acting as a source of information for potential investors and SMEs that wish to expand their business abroad
  3. Through associations that provide assistance to SMEs and a good network of contacts to start with
  4. Chambers of commerce can also provide support and information

Therefore it is a good idea to keep an eye for financial programmes and refer to your local agencies and public bodies that may be of help. Nonetheless, as recent research is showing 5 , the aid offered by such public bodies seems to be of slight importance towards internationalisation, since most firms finance their own ventures. It is not surprising because, after all, who could know what is best for one?s enterprise, if not the manager/ owner. Keep in mind though, that overlooking the public sector can imply lost opportunities for your company, due to the fact that networking is one of the key factors towards success and cooperation with public agencies will give you access to potential new partnerships.

EXERCISE: Take some time to browse through the internet for NIAs and Government Agencies that may provide information which will be valuable for the formation of your internationalisation strategy. Remember it is the best source of information so make sure you make regular visits to websites that may be of interest for your internationalisation plans.

1 Change in SME Internationalisation ? A Network Perspective, Niina Nummela, 2002, p. 4.
2 European Commission, Observatory of European SMEs, 2003, no. 4, p. 21.
3 European Commission, Observatory of European SMEs, 2003, no. 4, p. 38.
4 B. Banu Bozkurt, Oktay Ozdenli, Internationalisation and National Innovation System: An Investment Agency Perspective, 2005.
5 EU Research on Social Sciences and Humanities, National Corporate Cultures and International Competitiveness Strategies ? The Challenge of Globalisation for European SMEs, p. 113.